Topic: Groundwater

Overview

Groundwater

Unlike California’s majestic rivers and massive dams and conveyance systems, groundwater is out of sight and underground, though no less plentiful. The state’s enormous cache of underground water is a great natural resource and has contributed to the state becoming the nation’s top agricultural producer and leader in high-tech industries.

Groundwater is also increasingly relied upon by growing cities and thirsty farms, and it plays an important role in the future sustainability of California’s overall water supply. In an average year, roughly 40 percent of California’s water supply comes from groundwater.

A new era of groundwater management began in 2014 with the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act, which requires local and regional agencies to develop and implement sustainable groundwater management plans with the state as the backstop.

Aquafornia news Monterey Herald

Opinion: In defense of Marina Coast Water District

As a resident of Marina and the president of the Board of Directors of Marina Coast Water District, I feel it is very important to correct inaccurate statements provided by former Congressman Sam Farr. Yes, MCWD has needed to expend legal fees in the past few years; however, the bulk of those fees are to protect our precious water source from California American Water. Cal Am seeks to construct a desalination plant that will degrade our sole water supply source, groundwater… 
-Written by Jan Shriner, president of the Marina Coast Water District board of directors.

Aquafornia news Environmental Defense Fund

Blog: How oil & gas states did (and did not) protect land and water in 2020

More than 30 states actively regulate oil and gas development with a variety of practices and rules designed to reduce health, safety and environmental impacts. … Colorado approved new, nation-leading well integrity rules designed to prevent oil and gas wells from leaking methane to the atmosphere, befouling groundwater resources and causing explosions that can harm workers and communities. 

Aquafornia news State Water Resources Control Board

News Release: State Water Boards adopts new rule for winery wastewater processing and discharging

The State Water Resources Control Board adopted a general order for how wastewater is processed and discharged at winery locations in an ongoing effort to safeguard groundwater and surface water from wastewater discharges. The order protects groundwater and surface water quality while giving wineries the flexibility to select compliance methods that best fit their site-specific situation, including tiering the compliance requirements to the winery size and associated threat to water quality. 

Aquafornia news California Department of Conservation

News Release: Department of Conservation awards $1.5m in grants to support state’s groundwater management plan

The California Department of Conservation (DOC) today announced five watershed coordinator grants totaling $1.5 million to support regional sustainable groundwater management goals. The grants will go to organizations around the state within medium- and high-priority groundwater basins.

Aquafornia news Water Education Foundation

Announcement: Foundation resources help you understand groundwater’s vital role in California
Special report on groundwater coming soon

To help you learn more about the importance of groundwater, the Water Education Foundation has an array of educational materials on this vital resource. And next week, the Foundation’s online magazine, Western Water news, will publish a special report examining how two local groundwater agencies are taking different approaches to achieve sustainability in the San Joaquin Valley, one of the most critically overdrafted regions in the state.

Aquafornia news SJV Water

Water games: Madera farmers set to test market

Madera County farmers are getting ready to play what could be the “game” of their livelihoods. The county groundwater sustainability agency will launch a groundwater market simulation, or game, next month as a way for growers to see if selling and trading their groundwater helps make the most of what will become a severely limited resource in coming years.

Aquafornia news Colusa Sun Herald

Virtual workshop planned about Well Monitoring Pilot Program

The Colusa and Glenn Groundwater Authorities will host an online workshop about a Well Monitoring Pilot Program the agencies are implementing.  The voluntary, non-regulatory program will gather information about groundwater use in the Colusa Subbasin while also providing participants with near-real time access to information on well production and groundwater levels at their wells, according to a press release. 

Aquafornia news Wired

The ongoing collapse of the world’s aquifers

A booming agricultural industry in the state’s San Joaquin Valley, combined with punishing droughts, led to the over-extraction of water from aquifers. Like huge, empty water bottles, the aquifers crumpled, a phenomenon geologists call subsidence. By 1970, the land had sunk as much as 28 feet in the valley, with less-than-ideal consequences for the humans and infrastructure above the aquifers. … All over the world—from the Netherlands to Indonesia to Mexico City—geology is conspiring with climate change to sink the ground under humanity’s feet.

Aquafornia news CalMatters

Opinion: After COVID-19, drought threat still looms

California is enveloped in balmy weather that’s more like spring than mid-winter — and that’s not a good thing. We have seen only scant rain and snow this winter, indicating that the state may be experiencing one of its periodic droughts and adding another layer of crisis to the COVID-19 pandemic and economic recession. The all-important Sierra snowpack, California’s primary source of water, is scarcely half of what is deemed a normal depth.
-Written by Dan Walters, CalMatters columnist.

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Aquafornia news CalMatters

Opinion: Water partnerships between cities and farms would help prepare for a changing climate

San Joaquin Valley farms and Southern California cities are facing different but equally daunting water challenges.  For Valley farmers, the requirement to achieve groundwater sustainability in coming years has heightened interest in expanding water supplies to reduce the need to fallow irrigated farmland. For Southern California, falling demands since the early 2000s have reduced water stress during normal and wet years, but a warming climate makes future droughts a major concern. Both regions’ water futures could be more secure if they jointly developed and managed some water supplies.
-Written by Alvar Escriva-Bou, a research fellow at the Public Policy Institute of California 

Aquafornia news Northern California Water Association

Blog: Water resources managers in the Sacramento Valley are preparing for a dry year

While they remain hopeful the rest of winter will provide much more rain and snow, water resources managers in the Sacramento Valley are preparing for the potential for a dry year. While the prospect of a dry year is always jarring and challenging, we have confidence in the experience and knowledge that our water resources managers gained in 2014-15, and the strategies this region has implemented since that time to prepare for a dry year.

Aquafornia news Association of California Water Agencies

Blog: Gearing up for long-term water use efficiency

If 2020 taught us anything, it is that ACWA member agencies are highly skilled at delivering essential services to their customers even during the most unexpected and unprecedented times. As we gear up for the new year, our members continue to impress with their collaborative and coordinated efforts on vital issues affecting California water management, including the implementation of additional long-term water use efficiency strategies to increase resiliency in dry years. 

Aquafornia news BenitoLink

Assemblymembers Robert Rivas and Rudy Salas introduce legislation to maximize benefits of Sustainable Groundwater Management requirements

On Jan. 15, State Assemblymembers Robert Rivas and Rudy Salas introduced Assembly Bill 252, which if approved would help alleviate the impacts of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) on farmers and ensure that farmland taken out of production due to SGMA is reused to provide conservation, recreation, or other benefits to local communities. 

Aquafornia news California WaterBlog

Managing groundwater overdraft – combining crop and water decisions (without salinity)

California’s Central Valley produces much of the nation’s food, including about 40% of the country’s fruits and nuts and has the nation’s second most pumped aquifer system. Its drier southern portion, the San Joaquin Valley, has decreasing surface water supply reliability due to frequent and prolonged droughts, stricter environmental regulations, and growing competition among water users. Many farmers pump groundwater to provide their unsupplied water demand. The resulting groundwater overdraft has numerous impacts on the Valley’s agriculture and residents.

Aquafornia news Beyond Pesticides

Blog: Millions of people drinking groundwater with pesticides or pesticide degradates

 A study of groundwater that feeds public drinking water supply finds pesticides in 41% of supply wells (and a handful of freshwater springs). Two-thirds of that 41% contain pesticide compounds per se, and one-third contain pesticide degradates — compounds resulting from biotic (or abiotic) transformation of pesticides into other compounds.

Aquafornia news Arizona State University

Blog: New research director for Kyl Center focused on equity in water access

Arizona depends heavily on the Colorado River, and it is over-allocated, meaning, we collectively take more water from the system than nature puts in. To make matters worse, the Colorado River basin has been experiencing a prolonged drought of more than 20 years. When you take the longer term view, a lot of communities in Arizona are heavily dependent on fossil groundwater supplies. Once you pump them out, they’re gone forever. There are real problems looming when it comes to groundwater management and the Colorado River.

Aquafornia news Kings River Conservation District

News Release: KRCD joins over 200 organizations urging President-elect Joe Biden to address aging water infrastructure

A national coalition of over 200 agricultural organizations and urban and rural water districts urged President-elect Joe Biden and congressional leadership to address aging Western water infrastructure in any potential infrastructure or economic recovery package. Kings River Conservation District was among the organizations to sign on to the letter.

Aquafornia news UC California Naturalist

Blog: Have you heard the story of Lake Cahuilla?

The building of dams on the Colorado River has forever changed the ebb and flow, flooding, drying and renewal cycle of what was once Lake Cahuilla, changing its character and changing its name to the Salton Sea. Entrepreneurs once thought that the Salton Sea would become a sportsman’s mecca, providing fishing, boating, and waterskiing experiences like no other. There were a few decades where that dream seemed to be true. Then it wasn’t.

Aquafornia news SJV Water

Clean water plans need more public involvement, activists say

The stage is finally set for years of talking to be translated into actual clean drinking water for potentially thousands of San Joaquin Valley residents. But activists fear the effort will flop before the curtain rises if more isn’t done to engage the people who are drinking that water. The issue is nitrate, which is  rife the valley’s groundwater and considered dangerous for infants and pregnant women.

Aquafornia news OOSKAnews

Human depletion of groundwater resources exacerbates climate change impacts

Large swathes of land in densely populated parts of the world are subsiding rapidly as a result of groundwater depletion. Paired with rising sea levels caused by global warming, this could place many coastal cities at risk of severe flooding by 2040.

Aquafornia news SJV Water

Valley groundwater may get (small) slice of state’s $15 billion surplus

The Governor’s proposal for how to spend California’s $15 billion surplus includes $60 million in direct grants to help replenish groundwater in the valley’s most depleted basins. The measure specifies the money is to be used in “critically over-drafted basins,” which lie mostly in the San Joaquin Valley. Water managers were pleasantly surprised, but not overwhelmed, by the amount.

Aquafornia news Tahoe Daily Tribune

STPUD seeks input on groundwater management plan

The South Tahoe Public Utility District is seeking input as they update the groundwater management plan for the greater South Lake Tahoe area. Groundwater is the primary source of drinking water for more than 90% of the public and private water systems located throughout this area. Seeking input from beneficial uses and users of groundwater ensures the region’s Groundwater Management Plan assess current groundwater conditions, reflects local groundwater concerns and offers an appropriate long-term management plan to ensure our community has a sustainable source of clean water supply.

Aquafornia news Environmental Defense Fund

Blog: After decades of inequity, this woman is bringing long-overlooked voices to California’s land and water decisions

Vicky Espinoza is on a mission. Vicky is passionate about making sure rural, low-income communities and small-scale farmers have a say in land-use and water-management decisions in the San Joaquin Valley. 

Aquafornia news Sierra Sun Times

California Attorney General Becerra joins multistate effort to hold polluters accountable under the clean water act

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra on Monday, as part of a 12-state coalition, submitted comments to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) arguing that its new draft guidance misinterprets the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in County of Maui v. Hawaii Wildlife Fund… In the comment letter, the coalition argues that the EPA’s draft guidance tips the scales in favor of polluters by providing them with additional arguments to avoid regulation under the Clean Water Act, contravenes the purpose of the Act, and conflicts with the Court’s decision in County of Maui.

Aquafornia news Local Government Commission

Blog: Saving Borrego’s lifeblood

Borrego Springs’ only viable water source is a large aquifer under Borrego Valley; it has long been accepted that the aquifer’s water collected over millennia and is being pumped at a rapid pace by recent generations. What farmers, developers, business owners, and residents never agreed upon was how much water was actually available, and how long it would last.

Aquafornia news Ventura County Star

Opinion: Ventura’s water security requires investment now

Did you know Ventura is one of the largest cities in Southern California to rely solely on local water supplies? Rainfall feeds the Ventura River, Lake Casitas, and local groundwater basins to meet all the water needs of our community. Water is at the core of our identity and the future of its security is in jeopardy. Although our community’s conservation efforts have reduced water use by 20%, Ventura’s rain-dependent water supplies remain vulnerable to future droughts.  

Aquafornia news The San Jose Mercury News

‘Fossil water’ may be vanishing from California

A dinosaur bone. The footprint of a woolly mammoth. An ancient shell imprinted on a rock in your backyard. These are the images the word “fossil” calls to mind. But, buried deep within the earth, there’s another kind of fossil you might not expect — ancient aquifers, created by rain and snow that fell more than 10,000 years ago. And unless the fossil water stores are better protected, scientists say, they may become a thing of the past. New research on fossil water from Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory suggests that drinking wells that pump fossil water can’t rely on it being replenished — especially during times of drought.

Aquafornia news EurekAlert.org

New analysis highlights importance of groundwater discharge into oceans

An invisible flow of groundwater seeps into the ocean along coastlines all over the world. Scientists have tended to disregard its contributions to ocean chemistry, focusing on the far greater volumes of water and dissolved material entering the sea from rivers and streams, but a new study finds groundwater discharge plays a more significant role than had been thought.

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Aquafornia news Pasadena Now

Arroyo Seco Foundation opposes canyon project

In a letter to the city’s Hearing Officer, the Arroyo Seco Foundation said it opposes plans by the Pasadena Water and Power Department to upgrade facilities in the Upper Arroyo Seco damaged by the 2009 Station Fire. Damage to the structures has greatly reduced the city’s capacity to divert water from the Arroyo Seco for spreading and pumping.

Aquafornia news New Times San Luis Obispo

State Water Board worries Paso Robles groundwater decline will impact domestic wells

As North County water stakeholders wait for the state’s approval of a 20-year Paso Robles Groundwater Basin sustainability plan, the State Water Resources Control Board recently expressed concerns about whether that plan does enough to reverse the basin’s decline and protect domestic well users.

Aquafornia news The Grunion

Water Replenishment District’s next leader in limbo

A cloud of uncertainty hangs over the Water Replenishment District as staff, board members and the district’s attorneys try to navigate a legal minefield created by controversial attempts to hire former Carson Mayor Albert Robles as the agency’s new general manager.

Aquafornia news JD Supra

Blog: EPA muddies the water on permitting discharges to groundwater ‎and what the Biden administration will likely do about it

The EPA did issue a draft guidance memorandum relating to the County of Maui decision, notice of which was published in the Federal Register on December 10, ‎‎2020. However, instead of clarifying the seven criteria stated by the Court in County of ‎Maui or the application of those criteria, the EPA took seven and half pages to state ‎three truisms and added an additional criteria not stated in the Court’s decision ‎bringing the total number of factors to consider in determining whether a discharge to ‎ground water is the functional equivalent of a discharge to navigable waters to eight.

Aquafornia news The Sun-Gazette

Visalia to tighten water restrictions in March

The Visalia City Council’s last meeting was a fitting end to 2020 bringing news of an impending drought and the possibility the city’s groundwater reaching a new low. At the Dec. 21 meeting, Visalia’s water resource manager Andrew Munn told the council he was recommending the city move into Stage 2 of its water conservation ordinance on March 1, 2021 and to move into Stage 3 if the aquifer drops to a historic low. 

Aquafornia news The Sun-Gazette

Water authority and GSA to settle on sagging Friant-Kern Canal resolution

The Friant Water Authority cleaned up some of the most important work in the last month of the year hashing out a legal settlement with farmers in southern Tulare County. Represented by the Eastern Tule Groundwater Sustainability Agency (GSA) farmers agreed to contribute at least $125 million to repair the significant subsidence-caused sag in the gravity-fed canal that has cut water deliveries by 60%.

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Aquafornia news Torrance Daily Breeze

Water district’s next leader in limbo following controversial attempt to hire former Carson mayor

A cloud of uncertainty hangs over the Water Replenishment District as staff, board members and the district’s attorneys try to navigate a legal minefield created by controversial attempts to hire former Carson Mayor Albert Robles as the agency’s new general manager.

Aquafornia news Torrance Daily Breeze

In abrupt shift, water board rejects $275,000 GM contract for former Carson mayor

The board of the Water Replenishment District rejected a controversial proposal to hire former Carson Mayor Albert Robles as its interim general manager in a stunning turn when one of his supporters, and then another, left the meeting without explanation.

Aquafornia news Somach Simmons & Dunn

Blog: USEPA issues draft guidance to clarify the U.S. Supreme Court’s Maui Decision

On December 8, 2020, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued draft guidance intended to clarify when a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit is required under the Clean Water Act (Act) based upon the recent United States Supreme Court ruling in County of Maui v. Hawaii Wildlife Fund (Maui).  This guidance is important for public agencies and other entities that make point source discharges to groundwater that reach waters of the United States. 

Aquafornia news Law360

Electronics maker to pay $3.5m in water contamination case

Ametek Inc., a manufacturer of electronic instruments, has agreed to pay $3.5 million to put to bed allegations that it contaminated the groundwater of mobile home parks near a California aerospace manufacturing plant it once operated. The settlement, which received final approval from a California federal judge Tuesday, will include $1.5 million for medical consultations for the roughly 7,000-person class that says their groundwater was contaminated with the toxic chemical trichloroethylene, a solvent used in manufacturing. 

Aquafornia news New Times

San Luis Obispo County launches Arroyo Grande subbasin sustainability project

San Luis Obispo County recently launched a project aimed at developing a groundwater sustainability plan for the Arroyo Grande Subbasin and is calling for community members with wells that tap into the basin to help improve the county’s water level data. The Arroyo Grande Subbasin consists of a seven-mile stretch extending from the Lopez Dam to Highway 101 and was established as its own entity in 2019. 

Aquafornia news UC Santa Barbara

Blog: Using remote sensing to keep an eye on the trees offers an effective way to monitor groundwater along river corridors in the Southwest

Spend time in any of the world’s great forests and you’ll start seeing the trees as immense pillars holding the heavens aloft while firmly anchored in the earth. It’s as much fact as sentiment. Trees really do link the ground to the sky by exchanging energy and matter between the soil and the atmosphere. Researchers believe that understanding this connection could provide both a wealth of scientific insight into ecosystems and practical applications that address challenges such as water resource conservation and management.

Aquafornia news KQED

Groundwater beneath your feet is rising with the sea. It could bring long-buried toxins with it

Rising seas can evoke images of waves crashing into beachfront property or a torrent of water rolling through downtown streets. But there’s a lesser-known hazard of climate change for those who live along shorelines the world over: freshwater in the ground beneath them creeping slowly upward. For many Bay Area residents who live near the water’s edge, little-publicized research indicates the problem could start to manifest in 10-15 years, particularly in low-lying communities like those in Oakland, Alameda and Marin City.

Aquafornia news SJV Water

Wednesday Top of the Scroll: Proposed agreement could boost funds to fix Friant-Kern Canal

In what was hailed as a “landmark agreement,” farmers in an area of southern Tulare County blamed for sinking the Friant-Kern Canal from excessive groundwater pumping will chip in a hefty amount to help pay for a fix. How hefty could be decided by their payment choice.

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Aquafornia news JD Supra

Blog: EPA’s Clean Water Act groundwater guidance says little, will likely be rescinded

EPA’s recent draft guidance memorandum on applying the Supreme Court’s decision in County of Maui v. Hawai’i Wildlife Fund provides little clarity for determining when a release to groundwater is the “functional equivalent” of a direct discharge such that it requires an NPDES permit. Instead, the guidance largely stresses how the Maui decision did not fundamentally change permitting under the Clean Water Act, while explaining how permit writers might consider system design and performance in assessing functional equivalence.

Aquafornia news Chamber Business News

Blog: ASU study reveals groundwater generates 43 percent of state GDP

A new study highlights the tremendous impact groundwater has on Arizona’s economy and underscores the need to make sure every community has tools to protect and manage it far into the future, said Todd Reeve, director of Business for Water Stewardship (BWS), which commissioned the report. 

Aquafornia news Best Best & Krieger

Blog: EPA issues guidance on groundwater releases in wake of Maui v. Hawai’i Wildlife Fund

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency published guidance on how to apply the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in County of Maui v. Hawai’i Wildlife Fund. The guidance provides some clarity as to when a discharge to groundwater is the “functional equivalent of a direct discharge from a point source into navigable waters.”

Aquafornia news AgNet West

New addition made to bilingual SGMA video series

The latest update to a video series detailing the impacts of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) has recently been released. The bilingual SGMA video series is available on the YouTube channel CaliWaterAg.  The latest installment, Part 1.4, addresses land repurposing related to SGMA.

Aquafornia news Capital Public Radio

Friday Top of the Scroll: Much of California’s water wells are contaminated with chromium-6. Could a costly fix be coming?

California has yet to comprehensively deal with pervasive chromium-6 contamination, but that may soon change.  The State Water Resources Control Board held public workshops this week as it moves into what might be one of the final phases of the process of regulating the contaminant. They looked specifically at the costs of cleaning up the problem after the board published more data and analysis of the extent of chromium-6 contamination last week. 

Aquafornia news Arizona State University

Report: Arizona’s groundwater contributes to 43% of state GDP

Arizona State University’s Seidman Research Institute and Business For Water Stewardship released a new, first-of-its-kind report estimating the economic importance of groundwater for Arizona’s five Active Management Areas in Phoenix, Pinal, Prescott, Santa Cruz and Tuscon. The report finds that Arizona’s groundwater contributed to an annual average of 43% of the state’s gross domestic product (GDP), or $1.2 trillion to the economy over a period of nine years.

Related article:

Aquafornia news The Fresno Bee

Toxic tap water in Latino towns is a legacy of racist policies, California officials say

In the San Joaquin Valley, agricultural runoff from fertilizer and manure leaches into groundwater, contributing to some of the highest levels of nitrate pollution in community water systems in the country. A new report shows Latino neighborhoods are disproportionately impacted by elevated levels of nitrate, which advocates say is a result of a historic pattern of racist policies at every level of government.

Related article: 

Aquafornia news Science Daily

Study: Big data offers promise of better groundwater management in California

A research team has analyzed big data of more than 200,000 groundwater samples taken from across the state and found that there are problems with the guidelines used for groundwater management. Known as the ‘Base of Fresh Water’, the guidelines are close to fifty years old and don’t reflect current uses, knowledge, concerns or technologies related to managing groundwater in this coastal state with a multi-billion-dollar agricultural industry.

Aquafornia news SJV Water

New land trust focused on groundwater aims to give farmers options

Southern Tulare County farmers inching toward a cliff of groundwater restrictions that could dry up tens of thousands of acres have joined with conservationists to potentially soften their own landing and help improve wildlife habitat at the same time. At least that’s the goal of the newly formed Tule Basin and Water Conservation Trust.

Aquafornia news The Hill

EPA guidance may exempt some water polluters from Supreme Court permit mandate

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on Tuesday released a draft guidance that interprets a Supreme Court decision in a way that may exempt some facilities from needing permits to pollute groundwater. The EPA’s new draft guidance says that whether a pollution discharge into groundwater should be considered a “functional equivalent” depends on “what happens to the discharged pollutant over that time and distance traveled” to the regulated body of water.

Aquafornia news Arizona Republic

With drought and pumping, Hopi natural springs are drying up

The Hopi have lived for thousands of years on the mesas of the Colorado Plateau. Flowing springs and seeps have sustained them, providing sources where they have collected drinking water, grown corn and beans, and maintained a spiritual connection to life-giving water.   But the springs are dwindling. Some are completely dry.  

Aquafornia news Stanford News

Tuesday Top of the Scroll: New study allows regional prediction of uranium in groundwater

Stanford researchers have identified the trigger that causes naturally occurring uranium to dislodge from sediments and seep into groundwater…The research indicates that calcium concentrations and soil alkalinity are key determining factors of uranium groundwater contamination in California’s Central Valley. The findings will be especially important as water managers plan for a future with more people and less water available from snowpack in a warming world.

Aquafornia news Alameda Sun

Alameda leading Bay Area in studying impacts of sea level rise locally

The Alameda City Council unanimously accepted a pioneering report on the effects of sea level rise on groundwater. The report, “The Response of the Shallow Groundwater Layer and Contaminants to Sea Level Rise” finds that rising groundwater levels are a hidden threat related to sea level rise.

Aquafornia news The Grunion

Water Replenishment District postpones meeting about controversial hiring

The Water Replenishment District of Southern California’s board has postponed its next meeting to Tuesday, Dec. 8, when it is expected to clarify a controversial vote to hire former Carson Mayor Albert Robles as general manager.

Aquafornia news Storm Water Solutions

Storm water management system helps filtration efforts

An integrated storm water management system at The Albert Roles Center (ARC) for Water Recycling & Environmental Learning is helping to maximize on-site filtration and on/off-site groundwater recharge in Pico Rivera, California. 

Aquafornia news Water in the West

Flying the foothills to fill groundwater data gaps

Groundwater managers across the Central Valley striving to attain sustainability for underground aquifers are largely operating without a map. California’s 2014 Sustainable Groundwater Management Act requires managers to attain groundwater sustainability by 2042. However, critical knowledge is lacking on where water flows from the Sierra Nevada Mountains to recharge water supplies underground, and where there are sites that could be used to enhance the recharge…

Aquafornia news Agri-Pulse

Water Blueprint considering groundwater storage on fallowed land

A consortium of agricultural and water groups known as the Water Blueprint for the San Joaquin Valley is considering what to do with the thousands of acres of farmland to be fallowed due to the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act. Researchers outlined a recent study showing the potential for strategically conserving that land to benefit wildlife, improve soil health and recharge aquifers. They hoped to work with the consortium on policies addressing this.

Aquafornia news The National Law Review

Blog: California water district PFAS lawsuit

The California water district PFAS lawsuit is significant not only because it is one of the largest PFAS lawsuits filed to date by a water district, but also because it is one of the first times that a consumer product manufacturer is being targeted for PFAS cleanup costs.

Aquafornia news Eos

How some trees survive the summer dry season

An important component of Earth’s hydrologic cycle is transpiration—the movement of water through plants. Because transpiration affects near-surface temperatures, streamflows, and the productivity of ecosystems, understanding potential sources of subsurface moisture and how plants use them is crucial for developing accurate dynamic vegetation and land surface models. Our knowledge of these processes, however, is far from complete, in part because they are hidden below the ground.

Aquafornia news Orange County Register

Thursday Top of the Scroll: Orange County water districts file massive lawsuit over PFAS contaminants

Eleven Orange County water agencies have joined in a lawsuit seeking hundreds of millions of dollars from DuPont, 3M and others whose carcinogenic chemicals have leached into groundwater aquifers and forced the closure of more than three dozen wells in the central and northern parts of the county.

Aquafornia news SciTech Daily

Keeping California a powerhouse of almond production while improving environmental quality

Almond trees shed leaves, grow woody tissue, and undergo other processes similar to trees in a real forest. These all have effects on carbon, nitrogen, and other nutrient cycles. These characteristics can often mean that nutrients flow off of the field. They can get into areas like groundwater aquifers, where they can impact drinking water supplies for rural communities.

Aquafornia news KSRO

Sonoma County beginning outreach to well owners

Approximately 9,500 rural well owners in Sonoma County will soon be receiving a survey designed to elicit their concerns and ideas about local groundwater conditions. This joint project of the county’s three Groundwater Sustainability Agencies is the first step in an engagement project designed to educate and receive feedback from well owners in the Petaluma Valley, Santa Rosa Plain and Sonoma Valley groundwater basins.

Aquafornia news Sierra Club

Blog: Cadiz water mining project falters with public scrutiny, election setbacks

Cadiz Inc, a Los Angeles-based corporation, still hopes to drill for water under sensitive public lands in our arid California Deserts near Joshua Tree National Park, pulling out 50,000 acre-feet of water each year and lowering desert aquifers.  But the odds of this happening are slim with the corporation facing November election setbacks locally and nationally. 

Aquafornia news Northern Arizona University News

Blog: NAU alum authors research into groundwater, an often overlooked, but essential factor in Colorado River management practices

As the Colorado River winds its way through several different regions, the policies regulating it are complex, but without close management and monitoring, demands on this water source could outweigh its supply by 2060. To address these concerns, Riley Swanson, a recent master’s graduate of geology led a study titled, “Quantifying the base flow of the Colorado River: its importance in sustaining perennial flow in northern Arizona and southern Utah (USA).”

Aquafornia news The Fresno Bee

Blog: How private well owners in Madera, Fresno can shape water policy

It’s easy to understand why people who rely on private wells for their water can feel powerless about the future of their supply — wells pump water from underground aquifers shared by many neighbors.

Aquafornia news Bakersfield Californian

Farmland consolidations could save water, promote solar

Hopes are rising in the southern Central Valley that the farmland expected to be fallowed in coming years because of drought and groundwater restrictions won’t sit idle but will instead be consolidated to make room for new land uses including solar power generation.

Aquafornia news KSBY

County conducting groundwater survey flights in Santa Ynez, Lompoc Valleys

Residents in Santa Ynez and Lompoc Valleys may have noticed an unusual sight lately: a low-flying helicopter carrying a large, hexagon-shaped frame. It’s a project put on by Santa Barbara County, the Santa Ynez River Water Conservation District and others in the Santa Ynez River Valley Groundwater Basin to map local aquifers in order to better understand groundwater in the area.

Aquafornia news The Desert Sun

Audit of CalGEM says California oil regulators issued improper permits

California oil regulators ignored their own regulations and issued improper permits for hundreds of new wells last year, according to an audit … finalized this week. … The audit was requested after stories in The Desert Sun revealed that CalGEM employees used so-called “dummy” folders to approve new injection wells for several oil companies that do risky steam injection.

Aquafornia news Ridgecrest Daily Independent

Council, IWVGA agree on recycled water

If an options agreement between the [Ridgecrest] City Council and Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Authority comes to fruition, recycled water from the city’s wastewater facility could help balance the groundwater basin… Both the council and the groundwater authorities at their respective meetings last week approved the option agreement between the two parties for recycled wastewater.

Aquafornia news AgAlert

Trials evaluate alfalfa fields for groundwater recharge

Alfalfa is proving in University of California studies to be remarkably resilient when flooded with large amounts of water early in the year to refill ground depleted by deficit irrigation, or to recharge groundwater drawn down by pumping.

Aquafornia news GVWire.com

Look up: Helicopter will dangle electromagnet array over valley this week

If you look up into [San Joaquin] Valley skies this week and see a large, oddly shaped device hanging from a helicopter, don’t be alarmed. It’s part of a research project to map underground water supplies. Beginning Monday, flyovers are expected in areas west and south of Fresno – including Fowler, Kingsburg, Lemon Cove, Orange Cove, Orosi, Parlier, Piedra, Reedley, Sanger, Selma, Woodlake.

Aquafornia news Public Policy Institute of California

Video: Building a water-resilient California

What are key California water priorities for the coming year, in light of ongoing disruptions from the pandemic, the recession, lingering drought, and a record-breaking fire season? The PPIC Water Policy Center brought together three panels of experts to discuss possibilities at our annual water priorities conference.

Aquafornia news The Fresno Bee

How to comment on sustainable groundwater plans in Madera

After decades of new and deeper wells, degraded water quality and groundwater level declines, residents in the [Madera] area have a chance to influence how local groundwater will be managed and used for decades to come — and the deadline to participate is quickly approaching.

Tour Nick Gray

Clone of Central Valley Tour 2020
A Virtual Journey - November 19

Join us as we guide you on a virtual journey through California’s Central Valley, known as the nation’s breadbasket thanks to an imported supply of surface water and local groundwater. Covering about 20,000 square miles through the heart of the state, the valley provides 25 percent of the nation’s food, including 40 percent of all fruits, nuts and vegetables consumed throughout the country.

This virtual experience focuses on the San Joaquin Valley, the southern part of the vast region, which is facing challenges after years of drought, dwindling water supplies, decreasing water quality and farmland conversion for urban growth. The tour gives participants an understanding of the region’s water use and issues as well as the agricultural practices, including new technologies and water-saving measures.

Click to register!

Aquafornia news New Times San Luis Obispo

SLO County removes 37,000 acres from Paso groundwater pumping moratorium

Fewer properties over the Paso Robles Groundwater Basin will be subject to severe water restrictions after the San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors voted on Nov. 17 to revise the basin’s “area of severe decline,” eliminating roughly 37,000 acres.

Aquafornia news E&E News

PFAS exposure could hinder vaccine for hard-hit communities

Exposure to toxic “forever” chemicals could hinder the effectiveness of a COVID-19 vaccine, with outsize implications for some communities and workers.

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Aquafornia news Arizona Public Radio

USGS report: Climate change will reduce groundwater in Lower Colorado River Basin

The lower Colorado River Basin, which is primarily in Arizona, is projected to have as much as sixteen percent less groundwater infiltration by midcentury compared to the historical record. That’s because warming temperatures will increase evaporation while rain- and snowfall are expected to remain the same or decrease slightly.

Related article:

Aquafornia news CalMatters

Thursday Top of the Scroll: Well water throughout California contaminated with ‘forever chemicals’

In the weeks before the coronavirus began tearing through California, the city of Commerce made an expensive decision: It shut down part of its water supply. Like nearly 150 other public water systems in California, the small city on the outskirts of Los Angeles had detected “forever chemicals” in its well water.

Related article:

Aquafornia news Napa Valley Register

Environmental group threatens to sue St. Helena over groundwater extraction

Grant Reynolds, a director of Water Audit California, delivered a letter to the city on Monday criticizing its use of the Stonebridge wells for municipal use and “a pattern of exercising no discretion” in issuing permits for new wells.

Aquafornia news The Mendocino Voice

Groundwater agency discusses how to manage future of Ukiah Valley Basin

Plans to regulate groundwater for the first time ever in the Ukiah Valley Basin are moving forward. And though the details are wonky and a little esoteric, the results could affect water and ag policy for years to come. Last week, the Ukiah Valley Basin Groundwater Sustainability Agency discussed how their mammoth project of sustainably managing the groundwater is coming along.

Aquafornia news Santa Ynez Valley News

Surveyors take to air to see underground over Santa Ynez River Valley Groundwater Basin

A helicopter making low-level passes over the Santa Ynez Valley towing a large hexagonal frame is using a technology first developed in World War II to peer as far as 1,400 feet below the surface to map the groundwater basin.

Aquafornia news The Business Journal

Farmers donate money to help dairy in fight with city

The Tulare County Farm Bureau presented a check for $65,000 to Ben Curti and Tessa Hall of Curtimade Dairy to assist in their legal fees as they defend against accusations of groundwater pollution from the city of Corcoran…

Aquafornia news SJV Water

Madera groundwater plan accepted by state

The public can finally get a look at how Madera officials plan to correct severe groundwater over pumping and replenish aquifers in that area. For some farmers, that correction will mean pumping limits of up to 50 percent from what’s allowed today.

Aquafornia news City News Service

Hemp regulations approved in Riverside County

The Board of Supervisors Tuesday unanimously approved a series of regulations on where and how hemp growers can operate in unincorporated areas of Riverside County, prohibiting grows where water availability is already a challenge.

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Aquafornia news AgAlert

Updated: Bureau finishes study on Friant-Kern Canal repair

The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation has signed a record of decision, finalizing an environmental impact statement that gives clearance for the Friant-Kern Canal project to proceed. The canal needs repairs as a result of land subsidence.

Aquafornia news Reuters

Calif. county sues Dow Chemical, Shell over TCP pollution

Dow Chemical Company and Shell Oil Company have been hit with a lawsuit by the central California county of Madera alleging they knowingly polluted Madera’s drinking water wells by manufacturing and selling fumigants, used in agricultural fields, laced with a toxic chemical.

Aquafornia news Bloomberg Law

Wildfires emerge as threat to water quantity across parched West

How wildfires can affect water quality are well documented. But increasing—and increasingly intense—Western conflagrations are leading to fears they also could constrict the water quantity available in some of the nation’s most water-stressed areas….“It’s absolutely a threat to our water supply—the quantity and quality of the water that’s able to flow across the landscape,” said Dave Eggerton, executive director of the Association of California Water Agencies…

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Aquafornia news The Fresno Bee

Answers for private well, drinking water questions in Fresno

Private wells in the central San Joaquin Valley are at risk of water quality issues, failing equipment and declining groundwater supplies. To help residents address these concerns, The Fresno Bee contacted public officials, water advocates and other experts to answer frequently asked questions about common issues.

Aquafornia news Santa Clarita Valley Signal

Opinion: Protect our groundwater recharge

Recently the Santa Clarita Planning Commission approved a project that would qualify as “backward planning”: planning that pays no attention to modern issues, instead using methods long abandoned by others. To me, as a member of the local Groundwater Sustainability Advisory Committee, the worst of these is the plan to concrete a portion of Bouquet Creek along with the groundwater recharge areas on the property.

Aquafornia news Arizona Republic

Study: Drilling of deeper wells in United States is ‘unsustainable’

In areas where groundwater levels have fallen because of heavy pumping, people have often responded by drilling deeper wells. But exactly how much that has occurred on a nationwide scale wasn’t clear until water experts compiled nearly 12 million well-drilling records across the country. In a new study, [UC Santa Barbara] researchers found that Americans in many areas from coast to coast are drilling deeper for groundwater….The study confirmed that drilling deeper wells is common in California’s food-producing Central Valley…and household wells remain vulnerable to pumping by deeper agricultural wells. 

Aquafornia news San Joaquin Valley Sun

Thursday Top of the Scroll: Feds give green light to Friant-Kern Canal repairs

The federal government has approved plans to fix a sag in the Friant-Kern Canal. The Bureau of Reclamation gave its approval Tuesday – signing a Record of Decision giving environmental clearance for the project – following action from the Trump administration to invest about $5 million to study and begin pre-construction work on the canal.

Related articles:

Aquafornia news AgAlert

Opinion: State must fulfill promise of Proposition 1 water bond

Storage projects partially funded by Proposition 1 should help the state balance the swings in precipitation that characterize the California climate… Yet, six years after the bond’s passage, the water storage projects that will benefit from Proposition 1 likely remain at least a decade away from becoming operational.

Aquafornia news Santa Barbara News-Press

County to conduct groundwater survey flights

Residents of the Santa Ynez and Lompoc Valleys may see an unusual sight in the skies this November, and it won’t be a UFO. It will be a low-flying helicopter carrying a large hexagonal frame. This unique equipment is part of a project to map aquifers and improve the understanding of groundwater in the area.

Aquafornia news AgAlert

Farms work on nitrate control requirements

Local leaders, farmers and others in the Central Valley report additional progress in addressing salinity in surface water, and salt and nitrates in groundwater, in compliance with a program adopted last fall by the State Water Resources Control Board.

Aquafornia news Public Policy Institute of California

Blog: Improving water resilience for cities and farms with water partnerships

The San Joaquin Valley and urban Southern California are worlds apart in many ways. Yet each face growing water challenges and a shared interest in ensuring reliable, affordable water supplies to safeguard their people and economies. Both regions’ water futures could be more secure if they take advantage of shared water infrastructure to jointly develop and manage some water supplies.

Aquafornia news National Law Review

California: PFAS lawsuits increasing

On October 27, 2020, a California water PFAS lawsuit was filed by the Santa Clarita Valley Water Agency against several companies, in which it is alleged that the companies are responsible for PFAS water contamination in southern California.

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Aquafornia news Union of Concerned Scientists

Blog: Scientists share coping strategies for San Joaquin Valley households at risk of extreme climate impacts

“As temperatures rise, climate change compounds the already difficult circumstances of vulnerable communities, increasing inequities related to access to clean water, clean air and socioeconomic opportunities” said J. Pablo Ortiz-Partida, climate scientist at UCS and co-author of the guide.

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Aquafornia news Santa Ana Regional Water Quality Control Board

News release: Garden Grove industrial facility penalized $1.14 million for soil, groundwater contamination

Cham-Cal, operator and owner of a facility in Garden Grove that manufactures commercial truck accessories, used and stored tetrachloroethene (PCE) in its vapor degreasing operation, resulting in repeated discharges of the suspected cancer-causing contaminant to soil and groundwater on industrial property owned by Western Avenue Associates.

Aquafornia news Public Policy Institute of California

Report: Water partnerships between cities and farms in Southern California and the San Joaquin Valley

The San Joaquin Valley and urban Southern California each face growing water challenges and a shared interest in ensuring reliable, affordable water supplies to safeguard their people and economies. Both regions’ water futures could be more secure if they take advantage of shared water infrastructure to jointly develop and manage some water supplies.

Aquafornia news Monterey Herald

Split county board OKs cannabis cash for Salinas Valley well destruction

The [Monterey County] Board of Supervisors on Tuesday agreed to spend about $2.66 million in cannabis tax revenue over three years to cover the local cash match for a Salinas Valley well destruction program. The majority argued the well destruction program would have a broad community benefit by battling seawater intrusion threatening Salinas Valley agricultural and residential water supplies.

Aquafornia news Pasadena Now

Arroyo Seco Canyon project supporters hope to create local reliance on water supply

The proposed structure will span the width of the existing channel and feature an operable weir crest gate that can be raised for diversion to the intake structure and lowered to bypass diversions. An engineered roughened channel will be constructed in the section of the stream directly downstream of the diversion structure for future fish passage. The new intake will be equipped with a trash rack and fish screens.

Aquafornia news Bakersfield Californian

Tuesday Top of the Scroll: Oilfield wastewater slowly gains value in agriculture

For decades it’s been done on a relatively small scale near Bakersfield, and recent studies confirm it doesn’t threaten crop safety. So why aren’t more local oil producers giving farmers the briny water that comes up from the ground along with oil? In a word, money.

Aquafornia news AgInfo.net

Engage with your local groundwater sustainability agency

The Sustainable Groundwater Management Act, or SGMA, was a landmark legislation whose effects will be felt over the decades that it is phased into implementation. With the long time horizon it may be easy for some to lose sight of what’s happening now.

Aquafornia news California State University San Marcos

Blog: Ask the expert: The scarcity of water

Kristine Diekman is a professor of art, media and design at Cal State San Marcos, where she teaches media theory and production, and sound studies. She’s also a media artist working in documentary and experimental film, new media and community-based media. Since 2014, Diekman has been working on a digital media project, “Run Dry,” which tells the story of the water crisis in California’s San Joaquin Valley.

Aquafornia news Ridgecrest Daily Independent

Could recycled water help balance the basin?

If all goes according to plan, recycled water from the city’s planned $45 to $60 million wastewater treatment facility may be used to help balance the Indian Wells Valley groundwater basin as mandated by the state’s Sustainable Groundwater Management Act.

Aquafornia news CalMatters

Opinion: Here’s the challenge of implementing historic groundwater law

I can see clearly the challenge ahead for implementation of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Actcal act because I now have first-hand experience with the kinds of water disputes that can arise when the local parties involved are not given a chance to work things out collaboratively.

Aquafornia news SJV Water

Friant-Kern Canal fix approved over concerns the plan isn’t fully baked

The Friant Water Authority on Thursday approved the final environmental review for a massive project to fix a 33-mile segment of the Friant-Kern Canal despite continued questions about funding and other concerns expressed by some Friant contractors.

Aquafornia news Capital Public Radio

Friday Top of the Scroll: California’s landmark groundwater law falls short, advocates say

Advocates and researchers warn that the way many local agencies have interpreted the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act overlooks the needs of disadvantaged communities who rely on groundwater for their drinking water. Many are concerned that households and communities could see their wells go dry in the coming years, leaving them without access to safe and affordable drinking water.

Aquafornia news KQED News

Not just fracking: Cut all oil drilling in California, says key lawmaker

California lawmakers need to create a package of legislation that limits multiple kinds of oil drilling, not just hydraulic fracturing, if they want to respond effectively to the world’s climate crisis, says state Sen. Henry Stern, D-Los Angeles, who chairs the Natural Resources and Water Committee.

Aquafornia news AgAlert

Wednesday Top of the Scroll: Groundwater: Desert valley plan could price farms out of business

Two lawsuits against a Kern County groundwater sustainability agency show the potential implications for agriculture and other businesses with historic, overlying water rights….”It’s one of the first groundwater sustainability plans we’re seeing that could wholly restrict agriculture in a water-poor area, while ignoring overlying rights and preferring other, non-agricultural users in the basin,” [the California Farm Bureau Federation's Chris] Scheuring said.

Aquafornia news CalMatters

Newsom to be sued over fracking permits

A national environmental organization is preparing to sue Gov. Gavin Newsom’s administration for issuing new fracking permits, including six approved on Friday, Kassie Siegel, director of the Center for Biological Diversity’s Climate Law Institute, said Tuesday.

Aquafornia news Public Policy Institute of California

Blog: How water justice groups view groundwater sustainability planning

Over-pumping of groundwater has caused domestic wells to go dry in the San Joaquin Valley. Yet many of the first round of plans prepared to comply with the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) do not yet propose ways to address this problem. We explored groundwater planning with three members of the environmental justice community—Angela Islas of Self-Help Enterprises, Justine Massey of the Community Water Center, and Amanda Monaco of the Leadership Counsel for Justice and Accountability.

Aquafornia news SJV Water

Groundwater: The charge to recharge needs to be data driven

In the world of groundwater recharge, not all dirt is created equal. Where, when, how much and how fast water can best be recharged into the Central Valley’s severely depleted aquifers has become a critical question. A new tool aims to help answer those questions at the field-by-field level or up to an entire county.

Aquafornia news The Confluence

Blog: An artist and educator captures deeply personal stories of life without clean water

Run Dry is a story of small, rural California communities and their struggle to remain connected to the most precious resource—water. This digital media project combines short documentary films, personal stories, photographs, and data visualizations about water scarcity and contamination in the San Joaquin Valley.

Aquafornia news The Mendocino Voice

Groundwater regulation in Ukiah Valley is imminent. Here’s what you need to know

Right now, the Mendocino County Sustainable Groundwater Agency is writing up a groundwater sustainability plan for the basin. The plan will regulate groundwater in the Ukiah Valley basin for the first time ever, and will define how water is managed in and near Redwood Valley, Calpella, and Ukiah for perpetuity.

Aquafornia news Maven's Notebook

Developing groundwater allocations: Findings and recommendations

At the 3rd annual Western Groundwater Congress in September, Dr. William Blomquist, professor of political science and more at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, gave a presentation of ongoing research with Dr. Christina Babbitt, California Groundwater Manager at the Environmental Defense Fund looking at how other groundwater basins have developed groundwater allocations.

Aquafornia news KVOA TV

University of Arizona researcher leading project to model the nation’s groundwater

A University of Arizona researcher is leading a National Science Foundation project that is integrating artificial intelligence to simulate the nation’s groundwater supply for the purpose of forecasting droughts and floods. [One aim, the researcher said, is to] “come up with better forecasts for floods and droughts in the upper Colorado River Basin…”

Aquafornia news Red Bluff Daily News

Supervisors discuss Corning area groundwater levels

Tehama County Board of Supervisors received an update Tuesday … on groundwater levels and well depths following reports of south county wells going dry. … The majority of the calls come from areas west of Interstate-5 as far as Rancho Tehama, where at least two people have reported wells going dry. A few others have reported declining groundwater levels.

Aquafornia news Bloomberg Law

California water probe finds PFAS in majority of tested wells

Sixty percent of California’s public water supply wells that were tested for so-called forever chemicals contain those compounds, according to research that the State Water Resources Control Board released Wednesday. The findings … shed new light on the presence of PFAS contamination and areas that could be vulnerable based on proximity to known sources like airports and landfills.

Related article:

Aquafornia news Green Car Congress

Report says lithium from California’s Salton Sea can anchor US battery supply chain

Developing lithium from the Salton Sea in California can help anchor a multi-billion dollar domestic electric vehicle battery supply chain and inject thousands of jobs and billions of dollars into California’s economically disadvantaged Imperial Valley, according to a new report from New Energy Nexus.

Aquafornia news The Desert Sun

Coachella Water District breaks ground on east valley water connection

The Coachella Valley Water District broke ground Tuesday on a project that will connect the Westside Elementary School in Thermal to the water system that services much of the valley. Westside is the only school in its district relying solely on a well and has a history of water contamination….construction is advancing with money from the state water board’s Safe and Affordable Funding for Equity and Resilience Program. [It is the state's first recipient under the program.]

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Aquafornia news Pacific Institute

Blog: From source to tap: Assessing water quality in California

Water providers in California face myriad challenges in sustainably providing high quality drinking water to their customers while protecting the natural environment. In this blog post, I explore the stresses that surface and groundwater quality challenges pose for California’s retail water agencies. 

Aquafornia news Maven's Notebook

Tess Dunham: California’s three-legged stool for improving groundwater quality

Every year, the Groundwater Resources Association of California selects two speakers for the David Keith Todd Lectureship… One of the speakers for the 2020 lecture series was Theresa “Tess” Dunham, an attorney with Kahn, Soares & Conway LLP, who spoke about groundwater quality and how the Porter-Cologne Water Quality Control Act, the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act, and the state’s recycled water policy can work together.

Aquafornia news Phys.org

Researchers use satellite imaging to map groundwater use in California’s Central Valley

Researchers at the University of California San Diego report in a new study a way to improve groundwater monitoring by using a remote sensing technology (known as InSAR), in conjunction with climate and land cover data, to bridge gaps in the understanding of sustainable groundwater in California’s San Joaquin Valley.

Aquafornia news AgNet West

Water accounting platform is working well in Kern County

A relatively new water budgeting platform appears to be working well for producers in Kern County. The Rosedale-Rio Bravo Water Storage District has worked with multiple stakeholder partners to develop the Water Accounting Platform to help growers more accurately track water use.

Aquafornia news The Mendocino Voice

Groundwater regulation comes to Ukiah; local Groundwater Sustainability Agency introduced plan last week

Landowners with access to underground water have been able to pull as much water, at any rate, any time, and for any reason without worrying about protocols or following government rules. That is about to change. Last Tuesday, local officials and environmental engineers introduced an outline for how to sustainably manage and regulate groundwater in the region.

Aquafornia news The Nevada Independent

In correcting misappropriation of water, Nevada must balance legal rights with existing use

In the area that the Moapa Valley Water District serves, water users are facing an uncomfortable future: People are going to have to use less water than they were once promised. Over the last century, state regulators handed out more groundwater rights than there was water available. Today state officials say that only a fraction of those rights can be used, which could mean cuts.

Aquafornia news Soquel Creek Water District

News release: Soquel Creek Water District receives $88.9 million low-interest loan from US EPA for Pure Water Soquel construction

The Soquel Creek Water District is pleased to announce that its low-interest loan from the US Environmental Protection Agency has been approved, to be used toward construction of the Pure Water Soquel Groundwater Replenishment and Seawater Intrusion Prevention Project. The loan, up to a maximum of $88.9 million at an interest rate of 1.34%, is part of the Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act funding program.

Aquafornia news Ridgecrest Daily Independent

Mojave Pistachios, Searles Valley Minerals file lawsuits vs. Indian Wells groundwater agency

The Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Authority faces two lawsuits, from a major local farm operation and Searles Valley Minerals, over water rights filed this week in the aftermath of the passing of a controversial groundwater replenishment fee and a fallowing program.

Aquafornia news Courthouse News Service

Southern California residents blast NASA plan to clean up rocket lab site

NASA announced plans Friday to clean up a Cold War-era rocket fuel testing site in Southern California — plans that have upset residents who say the space agency and the Trump administration have punted any responsibility for a full cleanup and will leave most of the area contaminated.

Aquafornia news California Department of Water Resources

Blog: Clean, reliable water: How to get a seat at the table for groundwater planning

Healthy communities need clean, reliable water supplies. That is why your thoughts, and ideas need to be shared with local water agencies as they create plans that map out how groundwater will be managed for the next 50 years.

Aquafornia news Visalia Times Delta

Friant-Kern Canal fix stalled again after Newsom vetoes bill

Gov. Gavin Newsom put the final nail in the bipartisan bill’s coffin on Wednesday when he vetoed the legislation, arguing that the bill was too focused on one canal project: The Friant-Kern.

Aquafornia news UC San Diego

News release: Researchers use satellite imaging to map groundwater use in California’s Central Valley

Researchers at the University of California San Diego report in a new study a way to improve groundwater monitoring by using a remote sensing technology (known as InSAR), in conjunction with climate and land cover data, to bridge gaps in the understanding of sustainable groundwater in California’s San Joaquin Valley.

Aquafornia news SJV Water

“Madness and arrogance” forced lawsuit against desert groundwater agency

Two lawsuits accusing the Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Authority of ramming through a plan that ignores water rights and, according to one plaintiff, is intended to “destroy agriculture” were filed this week. At issue is a controversial $2,000-per-acre-foot fee that would be charged to certain groundwater users over a five-year period. That money is intended to raise $50 million to buy Central Valley water and, somehow, bring it over the Sierra Nevada to replenish the overdrafted desert aquifer.

Aquafornia news Environmental Defense Fund

Blog: How groundwater managers can avoid the courts as they divvy up water

One of the biggest challenges to implementing California’s Sustainable Groundwater Management Act hovers around this two-part question: Who gets to pump groundwater and how much do they get to pump? Or, put another way, who must cut their groundwater use and by how much? [Please note Oct. 20 webinar.]

Aquafornia news The Fresno Bee

Farms over-pump Madera groundwater, private wells go dry

The land east of Madera has changed in the 25 years since Rochelle and Michael Noblett built their home… There are more houses, more irrigated agriculture and less grazing land. There’s also been a significant decline in water availability, as the level of groundwater drops below what some domestic wells can reach. That’s why the couple was shocked when the county allowed a new irrigation well and almond orchard … in the midst of the most recent drought, even as private wells were going dry…

Aquafornia news San Joaquin Valley Sun

Thursday Top of the Scroll: Newsom vetoes Friant-Kern Canal fix bill

California Gov. Gavin Newsom vetoed a bill that would have provided funding to fix the ever-sinking Friant-Kern Canal. SB 559 would have required the Department of Water Resources to report to the legislature by March 31, 2021, on federal funding for the Friant Water Authority or any other government agency to restore the capacity of the Friant-Kern Canal. The bill would also have required DWR to include a proposal for the state to pay up to 35 percent of the cost of the project.

Related articles:

Aquafornia news Ridgecrest Daily Independent

Water Board candidates differ on how to balance basin, protect ratepayers

Potentially the most important question popped up roughly halfway through the Indian Wells Valley Water District Board candidate forum Wednesday night. Hidden within a longer question was the key point: how do the candidates think the local water basin should be balanced and how do they plan to protect water district ratepayers while doing so?

Aquafornia news The Rolla Daily News

Research links sinking land to regions of high groundwater demand

Researchers at Missouri University of Science and Technology … are using a form of artificial intelligence known as machine learning to map the sinking – called land subsidence – to help water policy officials make informed decisions. … To carry out their research, Smith and his Ph.D. student, Sayantan Majumdar, compiled hydrologic and subsidence data from satellites and ground-based GPS stations across the western U.S., including California, Arizona, and Nevada.

Aquafornia news San Francisco Estuary Magazine

Study: Small farmers shortchanged by SGMA

When governor Jerry Brown signed the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) into law in September 2014, he said that “groundwater management in California is best accomplished locally.” With the first round of plans made available for public comment this year, it appears that, while the state certainly ceded control to local management agencies, those same agencies have prioritized the interests of big agriculture and industry over small farmers and disadvantaged communities.

Aquafornia news The Desert Sun

Newsom aims to phase out new hydraulic fracking permits in California by 2024

California Gov. Gavin Newsom on Wednesday vowed to work with the state legislature to phase out new permits for hydraulic fracking by 2024, but left untouched a more widely used oil extraction technique in the state that has been linked to hundreds of oil spills.

Related articles:

Aquafornia news Maven's Notebook

Opinion: How SGMA and IRWM can utilize each other’s strengths

How does a region integrate Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA), a program mandated by state legislation, with Integrated Regional Water Management (IRWM), a voluntary collaborative effort, to implement regional water management solutions? … This article discusses how IRWM and SGMA share a similar approach…

Aquafornia news High Country News

Killing the Vegas pipeline — Nevada’s attitude toward water is changing

Over the years, these groups united against a single cause: the Southern Nevada Water Authority’s “Groundwater Development Project,” a proposal to pump 58 billion gallons of water a year 300 miles to Las Vegas from the remote rural valleys of Nevada and Utah. … In May, their three decades of resistance to the pipeline ended in victory: The project was terminated.

Aquafornia news The Sun-Gazette

East Tule agency to charge farmers for pumping water

Farmers whose only access to water is pumping from their own well will get their first glimpse at what the state’s new groundwater management law will cost them next month. On Oct. 1, the East Tule Groundwater Sustainability Agency will hold a public hearing to discuss a groundwater extraction fee…

Aquafornia news Arizona Daily Star

University of Arizona researchers unveil new model for desert farming in warming world

A team of scientists, led by the University of Arizona, has developed a new blueprint for arid-land agriculture using wild, native crops and modern growing techniques. The 14 researchers from the Southwest and Mexico believe their model can produce a sustainable, local source of food that will improve the health and well-being of consumers and farmworkers alike.

Aquafornia news The Nevada Independent

Where groundwater gives way to warm springs, a fight continues over building a new desert town outside Las Vegas

The housing developer and the powerful water utility, locked into past contracts, are caught in a fight, playing out in hydrologic reports and hearing rooms, over what might seem a simple question: How much water is there? That answer is complicated by how much is at stake — a Colorado River tributary, the survival of an endangered Nevada fish and the future of development in a sweeping area outside Las Vegas.

Aquafornia news The Sun-Gazette

Deep Creek Cemetery searches for water

The last few years have been dry for one of the oldest cemeteries in Tulare County. The well at the Deep Creek Cemetery has been parched since 2014 and now they are in talks with the Farmersville City Council to potentially connect to the city’s water system.

Aquafornia news AgNet West

Bilingual SGMA video series to foster better understanding

State and local agencies are continuing to work to implement the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act. With SGMA’s far-reaching implications, Ph.D. candidate at UC Merced, Vicky Espinoza has created a bilingual video series to help provide a better understanding of the impact of SGMA and generate more engagement.

Aquafornia news InsideClimate News

In a dry state, farmers use oil wastewater to irrigate their fields, but is it safe?

For decades, farmers in California’s Kern County have turned to wastewater from oil production to help irrigate their crops during extended dry spells. … But the use of the recycled water, a byproduct of oil and natural gas extraction that is mixed with surface water for irrigation, has stirred controversy.

Aquafornia news Napa Valley Register

Citizens group begins deep dive in Napa Valley groundwater issues

The Napa County Groundwater Sustainability Plan Advisory Committee — 25 people appointed by the Board of Supervisors representing such interests as farming, wineries and the environment — was in action last Thursday with a Zoom meeting.

Aquafornia news CBS San Francisco

Tri-Valley water districts tackle toxic chemicals in drinking water wells

Surrounded by lush green fields, Pleasanton often makes the top ten list of desirable places to live. But a new list just out is nothing to boast about. “I was just floored,” said Pleasanton resident Jill Buck when she found out her town made the top ten for dangerous drinking water.

Aquafornia news Pleasanton Weekly

Pleasanton council mulls options to treat PFAS water contaminants

The Pleasanton City Council made headway on plans to repair a contaminated groundwater well and meet — if not exceed – future water quality standards earlier this month. In a unanimous vote Sept. 1, the council approved a $437,374 contract with Walnut Creek-based Carollo Engineers to prepare a basis of design report for per-and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) treatment and rehabilitating the city’s groundwater wells…

Aquafornia news Voice of San Diego

Pursuing independent water sources, San Diego ignores one beneath its feet

San Diego is not well endowed with many freshwater sources to support its growing population, so some water experts are perplexed the city’s ignoring a self-replenishing local groundwater source that, though small in size, is safe from the threat of natural disasters and reliably recharged by the San Diego River.

Aquafornia news Ensia.com

Across the US, millions of people are drinking unsafe water

Once a week, Florencia Ramos makes a special trip to the R–N Market in Lindsay, California. “If you don’t have clean water, you have to go get some,” says Ramos, a farmworker and mother of four who lives in the neighboring Central Valley town of El Rancho. She has been purchasing jugs of water at the small store for more than a decade now.

Aquafornia news Ridgecrest Daily Independent

Opinion: Impact of new Indian Wells Valley Water District groundwater fees on customers

The Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Authority has taken actions recently with regards to fees that will affect customers of the Indian Wells Valley Water District. … It is my intent to provide context for how these fees will translate to your bill from the district.

Aquafornia news The Desert Sun

Oasis Mobile Home Park once again found to have arsenic in its water

The beleaguered Oasis Mobile Home Park near Thermal, home to about 1,900 largely Spanish-speaking residents living in poor conditions, has once again found dangerously high levels of arsenic in its drinking water. On Friday, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency served park management with an emergency order compelling them to provide residents an alternative source of water.

Aquafornia news Livermore Independent

Pleasanton City Council addresses water well issue

The Pleasanton City Council … unanimously approved a contract with Carollo Engineers in the amount of $437,374 to prepare a basis of design report for Per-and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS) treatment and the rehabilitation of city-owned and -operated wells 5, 6 and 8.

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Aquafornia news Maven's Notebook

A basic primer on water quality regulation

In 2014, California passed the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (or SGMA), requiring local agencies to be formed and groundwater sustainability plans to be written for all groundwater basins subject to SGMA. Those plans must avoid six undesirable results, one of which is “significant and unreasonable” impacts to groundwater quality.

Aquafornia news Somach Simmons & Dunn

Blog: California Supreme Court holds public agencies may not categorically classify groundwater well permit approvals as ministerial

In Protecting Our Water and Environmental Resources v. County of Stanislaus, the Court held that the County may not categorically classify all groundwater well permit issuances as ministerial decisions. Such a classification exempts well permit issuances from environmental review.

Aquafornia news SJV Water

Proposed $171 million Central Valley groundwater bank faces TCP contamination

Irvine Ranch Water District and Rosedale-Rio Bravo Water Storage District had just begun environmental review for their joint banking project this past April when TCP reared its head. … TCP (trichloropropane) is a carcinogenic leftover from a nematode pesticide made by Shell Oil and Dow Chemical that was liberally applied to Central Valley farmland from the 1950s through the 1980s.

Aquafornia news The Modesto Bee

‘Until the Last Drop’ documentary explains California water wars

The water wars are far from over, a point made clear in a just-released feature-length documentary, “Until the Last Drop.” If you can block from your mind the old Folgers “good to the last drop” commercials, the film title will evoke a combination of dripping water with a fight to the last drop of blood.

Aquafornia news The Packer

Opinion: Growers must solve California’s water challenges

I visited in late August with Matt Angell about California San Joaquin Valley water issues. Angell is a chairman of San Joaquin Resource Conservation District 9, is a managing partner at Pacific Farming Co., and also is managing director of Madera Pumps. The conversation included discussion of California’s Sustainable Groundwater Management Act and what that will require of growers in the years ahead.

Aquafornia news CalMatters

Opinion: Desal plant on Monterey Peninsula is not the best option

Expansion of the Pure Water Monterey recycled water project is the best option for the Monterey region to meet its future water supply needs. Unfortunately, California American Water Co., a private water supplier, is discrediting the project in hopes of getting approval for their much more costly, oversized and environmentally harmful groundwater desalination project…

Aquafornia news E&E News

Wheeler, Calif. Gov. Newsom clash over coal plant rule change

EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler and California Gov. Gavin Newsom clashed Thursday over the Trump administration easing restrictions on wastewater discharges from coal-fired power plants.

Aquafornia news Courthouse News Service

Foster Farms accused of wasting water to kill chickens in drought-prone California

According to the 21-page complaint, Foster Farms’ Livingston, California, plant uses 3-4 million gallons of drinkable water daily, more than all the other water users in the rural city of 14,000 combined. The main reason, the Animal Legal Defense Fund argues, is Foster Farms’ water-intensive slaughter system.

Aquafornia news JD Supra

Blog: California Supreme Court throws the barn doors open, finding that groundwater well permits aren’t necessarily ministerial

While the Court’s Opinion does not state that all well permits must undergo CEQA review, it narrows the grounds on which the ministerial exemption may apply. And since county well ordinances across the State comprise similar provisions, this ruling upsets the common practice of treating such permits as ministerial, not subject to CEQA.

Aquafornia news American Chemical Society

News release: Regional variations in freshwater overconsumption

With an ever-increasing human population, water shortages already occurring in many areas are only expected to get worse. Now, researchers reporting in Environmental Science & Technology have estimated the freshwater supply and demand of about 11,000 water basins across the globe, determining that one-fourth of freshwater consumption exceeds regional capacities.

Aquafornia news Natural Resources Defense Council

Blog: NRDC sues to protect kids from perchlorate in tap water

The lawsuit, filed in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit in Washington, seeks to overturn the Trump EPA’s decision to allow unlimited amounts of toxic perchlorate in our tap water. EPA administrator Andrew Wheeler reached this decision even though his agency admits that toxic perchlorate is found in millions of Americans’ tap water…

Aquafornia news The Hill

EPA sued over decision not to regulate chemical linked to fetal brain damage

The Natural Resources Defense Council on Thursday sued the Environmental Protection Agency over its decision not to regulate a chemical linked to fetal and infant brain damage. The agency announced in June it would not regulate perchlorate even though it estimated up to 620,000 people could be drinking water with a concerning amount of the chemical. 

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Aquafornia news University of Colorado Boulder

Blog: New grant supports interdisciplinary research on ‘the critical zone’ and the future of Western water

CU Boulder will collaborate with five other universities and two federal partners to better understand how water, trees, soils and rocks interact and change each other in the fire- and drought-prone landscapes of the American West. The team has chosen five locations in Colorado and California to test a variety of hypotheses about water in the critical zone. And not only from a physical perspective, but also from ecological and chemical perspectives.

Aquafornia news UC Davis Center for Regional Change

Report: Sustainable for whom? The impact of groundwater sustainability plans on domestic wells

Studies estimate that 1.5 – 2.5 million Californians rely on domestic wells to meet their household water needs. But because domestic wells are often shallow, they are also often sensitive to changes in groundwater levels. As such, sustainable groundwater management has an important role to play in safeguarding the health and safety of residents and the achievement of California’s recognized Human Right to Water.

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Aquafornia news Bakersfield Californian

Environmentalists pledge to fight first local auction of federal oil leases since 2012

The Arizona-based Center for Biological Diversity last week said it’s targeting a federal plan to auction in December seven parcels totaling about 4,330 acres in or near existing oilfields in the county. The CBD called the auction plan a “breathtakingly vicious” move by the Trump administration to expand drilling and fracking at a time of wildfires driven by climate change in an area with some of the country’s worst air quality.

Aquafornia news The Nevada Independent

Coyote Springs developer sues state of Nevada for ‘unconstitutional taking’ of water rights

A developer is suing Nevada’s Division of Water Resources after the state again denied plans to construct new homes at Coyote Springs, the latest setback in a decades-long effort to build a sprawling master-planned community about 50 miles north of Las Vegas. Coyote Springs Investment alleges state officials made a series of decisions that amount to an “unconstitutional taking” of the water rights it owns and planned to use.

Aquafornia news Patch.com

Orange County groundwater basin added to Superfund sites for future cleanup

The Environmental Protection Agency has approved a Superfund site project to clean up groundwater in part of a basin in Fullerton, Anaheim, and Placentia… According to the Orange County Water District, groundwater was contaminated with industrial degreasing chemicals in the early 1960s through the mid-1980s. The long-lasting effects contaminated an area about five miles long and two miles wide…

Aquafornia news SJV Water

Tainted valley groundwater could stymie banking deals

The big kahuna of California water — Metropolitan Water District of Southern California — has stopped taking supplies from one Kern County groundwater bank because the water is heavily tainted with a cancer-causing agent that is pervasive in Central Valley’s aquifers. While only one banking program has been affected so far, the emergence of this issue could have huge implications for water storage and movement in the Central Valley.

Aquafornia news Stanford Water in the West

Blog: Rebalancing agricultural and natural land

Over the next 20 years, San Joaquin Valley farmers may need to temporarily fallow or permanently retire over half a million acres of cropland as California pushes towards sustainable groundwater use. … Below, the paper’s lead authors, Benjamin Bryant and Rodd Kelsey, discuss their research examining how conservation planning can guide the land use change being driven by SGMA to achieve multiple benefits…

Aquafornia news The Hill

Proposal fast tracks oil development in national forests, green groups say

A Monday proposal from the U.S. Forest Service would severely limit the agency’s ability to call off any oil drilling slated for its lands by the Bureau of Land Management, which tees up leasing in federal forests. … The proposed rule removes specific references within Forest Service policy to review environmental consequences of drilling and also eliminates the requirement to provide public notice before new oil activity takes place.

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Aquafornia news Ridgecrest Daily Independent

Groundwater authority approves transient pool, fallowing program

The Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Authority last week voted unanimously to adopt a transient pool and fallowing program and also approve findings that the programs are exempt from California Environmental Quality Act review — meaning the programs are not considered to have a significant impact on the environment.

Aquafornia news Montgomery & Associates

Blog: Keep calm & SGMA on!

It hasn’t always been easy, and there have been plenty of bumps along the way, but we’ve learned a lot in those five years, and we are happy to share some of what we learned. We are pleased to present our top 10 SGMA lessons learned:

Aquafornia news Pasadena Now

EPA refuses to regulate perchlorate, after years of effort by Pasadena to eradicate the toxic rocket fuel oxidizer from two drinking water wells

While the world was coping with the deadly COVID-19 crisis … the Trump administration was quietly diluting environmental laws regulating the toxic rocket fuel oxidizer perchlorate, utilized extensively by scientists at Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) beginning in the 1950s and since then polluting Pasadena and Altadena drinking water wells.

Aquafornia news CalMatters

Opinion: Despite COVID-19, natural resources should remain important to Legislature

As if a global pandemic was not enough, the tumultuous legislative session comes to a close as much of the state is on fire. Understandably, lawmakers had already significantly pared down their legislative packages to focus on a response to COVID-19. And, then last week many important bills on environmental justice and natural resources stalled.

Aquafornia news Ridgecrest Daily Independent

Replenishment fee passed. Now what?

The estimated fee would be $24 a month for the average residential user presuming a five-year repayment period, according to Gleason. The fee would reportedly collect some $50 million which would be used to purchase water rights for imported water, presuming the same users continue using the water at roughly the same rate.

Aquafornia news E&E News

BLM plans first California auction in 7 years

The Bureau of Land Management will revive its oil and gas leasing program in California later this year, following a seven-year moratorium sparked by a fracking fight.

Aquafornia news EcoWatch

We can solve water scarcity in the U.S., new study says

The study … says that some of the most water-stressed areas in the West and Southwest have the greatest potential for water savings. The paper attributes nearly half the potential to simply improving how water is used in agriculture, specifically in growing the commodity crops, corn, cotton and alfalfa.

Aquafornia news The Point Reyes Light

Saltwater intrusion at North Marin wells reaches historic high

North Marin Water District has struggled for decades with periodic and seasonal salinity intrusion resulting from the wells’ proximity to Tomales Bay, but the problem is especially dire this summer as freshwater becomes scarce.

Aquafornia news California Department of Water Resources

Blog: Why conserving water today means more groundwater for tomorrow

Groundwater is California’s water savings bank account that can be tapped during dry years when water in lakes and rivers are low. Conserving water helps preserve groundwater, which is important for plants, animals and people.

Aquafornia news San Joaquin Valley Sun

Water agency approves 7,000-percent cost increase

Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Authority voted 4-1 to pass the replenishment fee despite significant public opposition. … Although residential users will see an estimated $24 per month increase, Searles Valley Minerals will see a 7,000-percent increase in water costs.

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Aquafornia news AgAlert

Summit reviews water needs of San Joaquin Valley

One expert at a virtual summit meeting on California’s water infrastructure said 1 in 5 acres will come out of agricultural production in the San Joaquin Valley by 2040.

Aquafornia news Valley Economy

Blog: Water Blueprint proposes a valley-wide sales tax to fund its irrigation water plan. Is it feasible?

Earlier this month, CSU-Fresno hosted the event “Funding Water Infrastructure in the San Joaquin Valley.” The majority of the event was focused on the so-called “Water Blueprint for the San Joaquin Valley,” a high profile new investment plan for irrigation water. At the event, the Blueprint rolled out a proposed funding plan – the centerpiece of which is a proposed 0.5% special sales tax in the 8 counties of the San Joaquin Valley.

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Aquafornia news Siskiyou Daily News

Dry wells, angry neighbors: Big Springs residents protest water trucking for illegal marijuana grows

More than 100 people gathered in front of the Mayten Fire Department in Montague Saturday morning to protest the trucking of water from local wells, most likely to irrigate illegal cannabis grows in the Big Springs and Mt. Shasta Vista areas.

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